I met Barrack Hussein Obama when he was a popular Democrat from Chicago campaigning in Michigan for a young woman from Canada running for governor of Michigan. He had been elected to the United States Senate and she was trying to tie down the Detroit black vote by having a fundraiser featuring the popular speechmaker.
The thing that stood out about him to me most that day was that fact that he smoked. I thought he was too young to smoke and it is the only sin I don’t commit in the destruction of my body, so, it stood out to me as a weakness on the part of a well-disciplined man.
I asked him about speaking at the Historic New Bethel Baptist Church, home of the late, great C.L. Franklin, the father of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. I just knew those name drops would work and I had asked the governor’s aide to put in a word during the ride from the airport.
Obama said he was holding off on appointments because they were thinking about running him for president. I said it would be another symbolic Jesse Jackson run. It would inspire and motivate many young blacks to be the best they can be, but no person of color could win the White House.
More recently, one of the black community’s great intellectuals and activists, Dr. Cornel West, has called on the president to show some concern for the urban or black community.
“I think I’ll vomit” is what Dr. West says when he thinks about Obama as president of the United States of America. According to West, a Harvard graduate, professor at Princeton and author, Obama has avoided the black community in favor of holding on to white votes.
Actor Hill Harper and N.A.A.C.P. director of the Washington bureau Hilary Shelton have said that many young blacks have gone on to college and grad school believing they, too, can become president of the country. I know that the Jesse Jackson run inspired my child to go to college and law school. She was only 5 years old but started saying, “I will be the president one day.”
President Obama has said I am not the president of black America, but the president of the United States of America.
The best is yet to come.